Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

274 “Hoops!”

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 274

“Those were the days!”

July 23, 2019

It’s not rare or those of my generation to wax nostalgic about our youth. Value systems were solid. Family life revolved around school and church. Parents and children sat down to eat together without technological interruptions. Sundays were set aside for church and family. Most businesses were closed and it was a bad decision not to fill up the car or truck before Saturday night.

Few restaurants were open on Sunday and while drive-ins were common, a drive thru didn’t exist. The weekends were not tethered to today’s widespread youth Sunday sports schedules. Sunday was a family day. What’s more, our parents didn’t need to worry too much about what we saw when we went to the local motion picture theater.

Oh, the classic western showed violence, but the raw “in your face” blood and guts seen today would not have been tolerated fifty years ago. Yes, the bad guy fell off the horse or down the hill, but the bodily damage was never seen. The good guy won. Oh, for those days….

To you who grew up in Indiana, the following description will be more than familiar. Others will find it intriguing. For many of you, it will be a memory that perhaps you have buried for a while. Last night, surfing through the channels on DISH, the movie “Hoosiers” popped up. Wow!

Long story, short, we settled down to immerse ourselves in the legendary days of Indiana high school basketball. I had the opportunity to travel a lot when I was younger. Worldwide, I was met with similar queries. When I mentioned that I was from Indiana, questions fell into just two categories: The Indianapolis 500 and the winner-take-all high school basketball championship. That’s how famous the tournament was.

The introduction of Class Basketball brought to an end the tradition and the spectacle of the State Finals. From its inception, it was the highlight of the year for basketball fans statewide. And it wasn’t lost on college scouts either. Its abandonment is more than sad, its replacement arrangement has set a terrible example to youngsters: everybody wins. Once a championship trophy stood for victory. Now, trophies are handed out willy-nilly just for participation.

Well, folks, life does exact winners and losers, and in every conceivable venue. School taught us that. Today, as shocking as it sounds, even handwriting stands at risk. You remember handwriting? Cursive? We learned it from the large alphabet script that ran along the top of what was then called a blackboard. Ah, yes, even the simple blackboard bit the dust. Maybe green is easier on the eyes, but stark cursive examples on that blackboard served generations of us Americans and served us well.

If the so-called educators in charge of current elementary school curricula get their way pushing no cursive in school, I suppose that, in the future, a signatory will need only place an “X” on a legal document. How comforting. Many crimes were solved because an expert identified a criminal from handwriting samples. The only plus I can see for the no cursive movement is that active or would-be forgers will be out of business permanently.

Sorry for that pathetic bit of levity, but I fail to see the wisdom in hobbling our young people and pushing a really stilted dependence on gadgets. Yes, cell phones are great assets. Calculators are, too; but the person who invented that calculator knew how to add, subtract, and divide. While I acknowledge that many lives have been saved because of a quick, “911” cell call, there is another side of the coin — the countless lives lost due to texting or talking when driving. For every plus there is a minus. I digress.

Back to “Hoosiers”….

I make no claim that our younger years were devoid of problems, but we had a solid foundation on which to base our future. Some of us took jobs in factories, some went into the military, and others went on to college.

Some of us moved far afield and lived in locations thousands of miles from home. Others stuck around and never left, but that camaraderie we shared in the crowd as our basketball teams played their hearts out on the hardwood never left our souls. It awakened at the first scene of the movie. You see, that sense of community remains for a lifetime.

That is why, for my husband and me, “Hoosiers” is more than an evening’s entertainment. It portrays a clear image of the world in which we lived, a world where the very thought of a 24-hour-news channel was as improbable and far-fetched as science fiction.

In truth, not every family was a close one, but the community at large served as an extended family to many of us. Crime was all but nonexistent in our hometown, even if Indianapolis did have its share of trouble. Our radio news came in the morning, and at noon Fred Heckman’s familiar voice on WIBC radio (formerly WFBM) brought us up to date in his daily rendition of “My Town Indy.” Later, in the evening, most people checked in with the 11 o’clock news on television if only to check on the weather.

I chuckle now when I think about my mother in that regard. She was careful to make sure I was upstairs before the weather aired. I guess I didn’t sleep well if storms were forecast. That may date to the night that a tornado tore through town just a few blocks from our home. We heard its roar as it took off the third floor of the Five Points building across from Thomas A. Hendricks Elementary School. A few blocks east, the twister set the roof of the Kroger Store down in the middle of South Harrison Street!

Friday night in our hometown mimicked those in many a small Indiana town. Friday night was spectacular. Downtown stores remained open and, walking around, you saw nearly everybody you knew. Folks of all ages and parents with children strolled the sidewalks together. Rural families, too, flocked to the county seat to enjoy the shopping. Ice cream parlors offered up the latest treats. And world problems? Those subjects were tackled by groups of dads gathered on street corners while wives shopped with kids in tow.

If we felt any shudder at all, it was that looming decision after our senior year — what to do after graduation.

Today, some scenes in “Hoosiers” should give you pause — a minister in the locker room before each game. Yes, a player in the movie did take a knee, but to pray to God. Just before the final game in Butler Fieldhouse there were prayers yet again. While we hear phases of financial dealings labeled “Pay to Play,” the cast of “Hoosiers” had a twist with meaning: “Pray and Play.”

All those years dissolved into a mist of memory. Then came The Class of 1961’s 25th school class reunion held in June of 1986. Classmates could hardly wait to see “Hoosiers,” but its release would not be until November. We wondered if the movie would be true to life. Our vivid mental images of tumultuous Sectional and Regional games remained clear.

Dreams existed, to be sure, but they were realistic. Every high school understood the odds, but any small school that won its regional positively reveled in that victory. A Regional win heralded the thrill of playing in the State Finals held at Butler Fieldhouse. The finale recreated by the filmmakers is just terrific and accurate at its core. Even the 48-Star American Flag is true to the time.

Winning “The State,” was the ultimate prize for an Indiana high school. I miss the excitement of it all, and I know I am not alone. Yet, for countless schools, a sectional or regional win was met with great celebration.

Enter the father of famed Indiana University basketball player Steve Alford, currently the coach of UCLA. Sam Alford was an Assistant Collegiate Basketball Coach under Steve at Iowa in 1999 when my husband met him and his wife for supper in the Amana Colonies. Sam’s is a storied life, replete with the amazing records amassed as a high school coach. A member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Sam Alford was 452-245 in 29 seasons as a high school coach in Indiana, including a 300-188 mark in New Castle.
Sam Alford coached his son at Chrysler High School in New Castle, Ind., and was an assistant to Steve for four years at Southwest Missouri State, then joined him at Iowa in 1999.
Sam was a head coach at three other high schools — Monroe City, South Knox and Martinsville — and spent two years as an assistant at Franklin High School.
What a wonderful visit we enjoyed with Sam and his wife. He reviewed my book, Net Prophet – The Bill Garrett Story. It is the biography of our own hometown hero, the first Negro to play collegiate basketball for Indiana University in the Big Ten. I felt so honored to have Sam agree to review it for me.
After light conversation, I asked him if he would consider answering a pressing question. I remember the exchange very well. “Sam, what do you think of Class Basketball in the ISHAA?” His answer was short and sweet. “I hate it. It ruined the tournament.” He isn’t alone in that opinion. A lot of us feel that way, and I have even heard banter that there might be a referendum on an Indiana ballot one day to go back to one class. Gate receipts are a shadow of what they were and crowds have dwindled. Even with the growth of girls’ sports, there is absolutely no excuse for breaking up the tournament that made Indiana famous worldwide. What a shame it is for all of us….
The real problem that threatens going back to the former system is generating the necessary interest — a real worry because our generation, the one that fully appreciates the value of the one class tournament, is dying off. Sadly, young people who have never experienced the basketball competition we knew are in the dark. To put it mildly, they just don’t know what they are missing!
You see, we have two generations of people who never experienced the euphoria of “Hoosier Hysteria.” They are all the poorer for that. The lines that wound around the block at high schools waiting to buy tickets are scenes of the past.
Waxing nostalgic comforts those of us who lived those days. Memory may be the only thing we can embrace when it comes to high school basketball. The excitement we knew is no more….
Could there be a rebirth of the One Class, Winner-Take-All State Tournament? Will there be a time when neighbors will gather around a television set to tune in to the “The Finals?” (No other description would be necessary.)
Final is a terminal word, but it stands for an obituary when applied to the sole event that folks in Indiana loved and respected for decades. My hope is that it will return.
If you haven’t seen “Hoosiers” starring Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, you can order a copy on-line or simply watch for it on cable or satellite television channel listings. “Hoosiers” recreates a time when basketball was king, when Friday night games (or the occasional Saturday game) drew packed crowds to gyms in hamlets, towns and cities. Keen rivalries fueled spirited cheer blocks and adults reveled in the games as much as the students. If your team won, you celebrated. If your team lost, your coaches and teachers reminded you to lose gracefully. It was just a game, but what a game it was!
In truth, the movie is based on the 1954 victory of tiny Milan. One of my favorite lines is from the locker room before the team walked out to face their opponent in the final game for Hickory. “Let’s do this for all the little schools…” They did.
The title “Winner” should mean something in Indiana. Once upon a time it did. The State Championship was the goal every school, no matter its size, sought to achieve. It can be that way again, but a sea change in the ISHAA brackets tournament games will require a groundswell of public support. Our state tournament had class — one class.
Think about it.
Oh, and watch the movie. Screen it for your grandchildren.

293 “Veterans Day” 2019

Monday, November 11th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 293 “Veterans Day”

First of all, to all my readers who served this country, my highest praise and respect. This is your day and you deserve the recognition. For you other readers, as you go about your day, be mindful of those whom we honor.

The Armistice signed November 11,1918, at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

It has long been called “The War to End All Wars,” but sadly that designation is incorrect. One cannot calculate the profound impact that World War I had on the entire world. Losses were felt across Europe and the United States. Markers stands in villages across France to honor those who died.

According to the Robert Schuman Center, the total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I, was around 40 million. There were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. The total number of deaths includes 9.7 million military personnel and about 10 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 5.7 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million.

Classification of casualty statistics were prepared as follows:
Estimates of casualty numbers for World War I vary to a great extent
Military casualty statistics listed here include combat related deaths as well as military deaths caused by accidents, disease and deaths while prisoners of war. Most of the casualties during WWI are due to war related famine and disease. Civilian deaths due to the Spanish flu have been excluded from these figures, whenever possible. Moreover, civilian deaths include the Armenian Genocide.

Those who wear the uniform today honor the lives lost in that conflict. Number eleven is paramount to the Armistice date. I often wonder if the plan to sign those papers at Eleven O’clock on the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month heralded to the old schism of being “The Eleventh Hour.”

One explanation dates back to the 17th century, although the term has been well known since the 19th century. One explanation is Biblical. The eleventh hour is an allusion to the parable of the laborers found in Matthew 20: 1-16, in which those workers hired at the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour working day were paid the same amount as those who began in the first hour. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives this explanation: the latest possible time before it is too late. While neither of these descriptions are apt when applied to the Armistice, perhaps this thought will make it a bit clearer.

Had World War I not ended, it might have destroyed the entire continent of Europe. Any population can suffer some loss in war, but when lives lost ramp up into the millions, the consequences are devastating.

Those “doughboys” who fought in the trenches, died in the onslaught of bullets, suffered in awful weather conditions, and fell victim to rampant disease endured more than we can imagine.

In truth, one can describe the other major wars since that time in similar terms, although the loss of life has been far less. The men who go forth to defend freedom — ours and that of far-flung populations around the globe — deserve our respect.

Today is the day set aside for our veterans. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid. We are each better off for their service. When you see a hat for any branch of the armed services, take a moment to thank the man or woman proudly wearing it. They are our heroes.

Teach the youngsters to respect those who serve in the U. S. Army, U. S. Air Force, U. S. Marines, U. S. Coast Guard, and U. S. Merchant Marine. They stand for us. Our children should stand for them.

Again, thank you, veterans. We, and the world, are better for your service.

272 – “Not just another day….”

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 272

December 7, 2019

“Not just another day….”

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, FDR’s famous line “a day that will live in infamy” is not readily understood by the younger set, and I lay the blame at the foot of people who claim they are educators, but I see as more indoctrinators.

If that sounds harsh, just pad around a street sometime, or outside a place of business that caters to young people. Ask about December 7th — or sadly, even World War II — and you may elicit a blank look. How sad.

On that day thousands of young men lost their lives, suddenly and without warning. There are constant articles that claim that our government knew ahead of time but needed a viable reason to enter the war. I would like to think that their assessment is fantasy.

My parents’ generation fought that war. They lost loved ones and friends in that war. They kept the home fires burning, donating metal for the war effort and accepting the food and gas rationing with aplomb. At the heart of their efforts was love of country.

Widely missing in today’s society, we are at an incalculable loss for it. There is no way to estimate the cost of that national pride. Key to my youth, solid American values anchored our lives. Although I was born the year before World War II ended, it did, nonetheless, have a great impact on my life.

I was taught to respect anyone in uniform and I still stop to thank a veteran any time I see a cap denoting service. Service is the given term, but the cost in terms of physical and mental health is, and will forever be, indeterminate.

Whenever American President awards the Congressional Medal of Honor in a live event, I make it a point to watch. Every story is different, yet each story has one common thread: love of comrade and self-sacrifice. Thank God for that person and for every other man and woman who dons the uniform and carries the American spirit around the world.

Many people compare “9/11” to Pearl Harbor. Both were surprise attacks. Both targeted critical components of American society —for Pearl Harbor, military and for “9/11,” financial. In both cases, civilians lost their lives, although far more civilians died in 2001 than in 1941. Pearl Harbor crushed a peaceful Sunday morning when most soldiers, sailors and airmen were at rest, on light duty or attending church services. Their world that came to an end in less than a few hours galvanized the American people in a response that eventually took down The Axis Powers in Europe and the Empire of Japan.
I strongly propose that curricula in the United States be reorganized to teach a more intense study. Paired with the Federalist Papers and the U. S. Constitution would be military history. I often joked with my college students and told them that their idea of sacrifice was not getting fries with the special. While flip in nature, I sought to get their attention.

We are only as strong as our national fiber. Sadly, it is fraying. We need to instill good, old-fashioned (yes!) values of God, Country, and Family.

Today, as you hear mention of December 4, 1941, take a moment to ponder how a nation came together to defeat evil, and in the process, sacrificed so many. Below is a chart.

US MILITARY CASUALTIES IN WORLD WAR II

Branch Killed Wounded
Army and Air Force 318,274 565,861
Navy 62,614 37,778
Marines 24,511 68,207
Coast Guard 1,917 Unknown
TOTAL 407,316 671,278

As for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the total number of military personnel killed was 2,335, including 2,008 navy personnel, 109 marines, and 218 army. Added to this were 68 civilians, making the total 2403 people dead. 1,177 were from the USS Arizona.

This seminal event in our history is not just fodder for movies and specials. It heralds the spirit of a nation that has freed more people than any other nation on earth.

Today, there are families who still mourn a relative lost on that day. Many were just teenagers who wanted a better life and declared that they were old enough to enlist. The bond among the men and women in the military is one hard to quantify or truly explain.

As we watch a slow disintegration of Americans’ pride in her history, take a moment to think about all those who died on Pearl Harbor Day. December 7, 1941 may have been 78 years ago, but it is a day never to be forgotten. December 7, 1941 was not just another day….

Think about it.

272- “Ego”

Friday, October 25th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#272

October 26, 2019

“Ego”

No, not the eccentric, self-absorbed food critic in Disney’s “Rattatoile,” — not even close. The slow creep of secularism is smoldering and threatens to explode much as the forest fires in California. The core may be a bit more common between the two. More than one would think….

While the State of California has consistently ignored accepted and tested methods of forest management, educators nationwide have ignored the accepted and trusted values of the nation. Instead of instilling respect and love of country in their young charges, they have, instead, seeded a fomenting animosity and is downright scary. They are much more interested in teaching elements of sexual identity and climate change than preparing youngsters to handle money wisely and to hail the U. S. Constitution for the priceless document it is.

Not only are a great number of our young people ignorant of their own history, but they are also hampered by a lack of discipline. Bad behavior once had consequences. Not so in many cases today. In fact, the latest threat to launch a massive march in Washington, D.C. brings to mind scenes from socialist countries of South America.

Perhaps hampered is not the right word. How about threatened? Yes, threatened. If one is unaware of a risk, unrecognized, the result is dismal at the least. We live in a nation founded on the rule of law. Yet, laws are consistently overturned by individual activist judges — a practice that flies in the face of truth. Oh, yes, truth. Many of us have abandoned that, too.

Once school days opened with prayer. Baccalaureate celebrations held ahead of high school graduations were more often than not held in a church. Egad? A church? Shocking! Well, not to those of us in the senior citizen group, but certainly to a wide swath of Americans today.

My assessment is that when our federal government caved to athiests and removed God from our schools, Satan gleefully skipped in the front door to issue an influence that spawned disrespect of teachers, administrators, and fellow students. My, that’s a nice recipe for us, isn’t it? God Bless America” is not simply a song title or a sentiment. It is a truth embodied in American history.

Most of us equate the characteristic of “ego” to one of pompousness and self-engrandisement. However, there is a much more perilous movement at work. E – G – O…

When a nation seeks to remove God from the public square and the public school, it risks annihilation. “I do not state this idly. There is ample Biblical evidence for this. Oh, the nay-sayers will claim that faith in God is groundless. Tell that to Sodom and Gomorrah. Lest we repeat that judgment, we need to turn back to God and seek his guidance. His forgiveness is guaranteed, but our actions are not. Think about it.

270 “Coup…”

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 270 October 15, 2019

“Coup?”

I find myself astonished at the current happenings in the U. S. House of Representatives. The one aspect of our elections that sets them apart from any other country in the world is, and has always been, our peaceful transition of power. This is especially germane today with focus on the Presidential Election of 2016.

Every voter makes a decision. Someone wins. Someone loses. Life returns to normal and government either continues its already set course for a second term or forms anew. In a time-tested pattern, the losing party tends to lick its wounds and see how it might do better in another four years; but that is the usual, logical pattern —- at least one that has held for over 200+ years. We certainly don’t see that today. The raw hatred and vitriol we witness now is not only unprecedented and incredibly juvenile, but also warps our image worldwide.

Like many others who look back on the 2008 election, I did not vote for Barack Obama. Yet, I prayed for his and his family’s safety and went about my life staying as informed as possible with regards to national and world affairs.
I would never have conceived that the Republican Party would launch an attack on his office or him as a person. And, true to form for Republicans, that did not happen. Sadly, those who persist in dividing Americans would quip that any criticism of our first black president would be rooted in racism. How shallow a position that is. And what a convenient, certain way to thwart honest criticism. Fear of censure is powerful.

How much further does this ridiculous spiral of correctness have to go before it crashes and burns? I wish I knew. News coverage has been a big part of my life and I lament the bias of the national media. It’s as if they have actually become an arm of the Democratic Party. How incredibly sad….

In growing numbers, today’s children are taught that everybody wins. Not so. Not ever in history has that been so. Learning to lose is part of life. It boggles the mind to conceive how these youngsters will be able to handle real trouble. Without learning the truth, real life will be a real shock.

Impeachment is rare. When it was Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s successor, the action was petty —— initiated by someone upset with a cabinet appointment. In the case of presidential appointments, the mainstream media today would have you think that this president’s freedom to choose is automatically irrational and tantamount to treason.

Somehow, they must think that we aren’t paying attention. The American people have witnessed the double standard between the parties whether it be charges of sexual misconduct or other slips of character. If Democrats do it, it’s always justified or ignored. If Republicans do it, woe be it to them!

Both the impeachment of Richard Nixon and of Bill Clinton were undertaken according to long-standing rules. The House took a vote, and the charged party was allowed to present a defense. Today, Democrats are doing everything to deny President Trump a defense.

The really disturbing aspect to this is echoes an admonition I gave to my college students over twenty-five years ago. “It is not the elected portions of the federal government you fear. Instead, it is the underlying bureaucracy. These folks look at all elected officials — even the president — as ‘part time help.’ Why? Because they go on forever. They remain in their positions and wield influence no matter who is elected.” We see the fruits of their under-the-radar workings now as leaks come from such employees in an effort to impeach a duly elected president.

And the impeachment news? It is nothing short of trial by press —- and by a a press completely absorbed in their penchant for vengeance. Yes, vengeance. Their cohorts in the DNC convinced them that their candidate would win in 2016. It didn’t happen. Now the tack seems to be to whip up the thought that more and more Americans favor impeachment. This brings to mind a tenet I learned in a polling class in a Ph.D. program at Indiana University. Polls are only as good as the sample and can vary widely in answers because of the content of the questions. In short, you can get the answer you want by couching the question in your favor.

And so, in a push to overturn what they call an “illegitimate election,” Democrats continue to plod forward (led by such stellar players as Adam Schiff) to throw out the votes of millions of Americans who recognized that a successful businessman was a much better choice than a politician.

Oops, boys and girls. Your cause is lame and unsubstantiated. (Note that I used those salutations deliberately. Adult terms, men and women, denote honor and integrity.) Democrats display none of either. They insult the intelligence of the American voter. Instead of putting forth policy, they rely on their zeal and venomous rhetoric to sway solely by accusation. It reminds me of the old joke from law school: “When did you stop beating your wife?” Once a public accusation is made, the accuser achieves the end — forget about the honesty of the means.

As a government and history teacher, I tried to instill my students (both high school and collegiate) with confidence in our form of government. I shudder to think how I would begin to explain today’s happenings, because they defy common sense. Give me air….

Because the current push for impeachment doubles my anger — and that of most of you, I don’t end with simply the title of “coup.” Instead, I repeat the term and take a bit of license these House of Representatives’ to describe the machinations undertaken by the Democrats. Abandoning the classic term for a takeover, I take a bit of license and use a familiar term. I double the sound of the term and offer this one: “Cuckoo.” ‘Kinda makes you wonder what face will emerge from that clock when it whines on the quarter hour. It wouldn’t chime. Chime smiles. I haven’t seen a smiling Democrat in years. They are far too angry to smile.

May the clock continue to tick on these blokes and show them for precisely what they are: poor losers vowing to use every possible degree of dishonesty and subterfuge to attack and destroy a man who is unapologetic for his faith in God and his love for the United States of America and a deep affection for the working American.

If you’re tired of all this childish behavior in D.C., contact your Congressional delegations (House and Senate) and let them know. They work for you. It’s time to put an end to this.

I pray every night for the Lord to protect President Trump and to give him courage to face the next day. I am sure that I am not alone. Will you join me?

268 “Metal Urgent”

Friday, August 16th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 268 “Metal-Urgent”

August 16, 2019

I take license with the standard metallurgy to pose a question to all of you despite your state of residence.

Harken back to World War II. American households from coast to coast began to donate metal toward the war effort. Vintage newsreels show housewives of all ages dragging everything from old beds to hubcaps… pots and pans to floor lamps… They carried their bounty to waiting trucks that plied the streets of towns and cities across the United States gathering precious metal for the war plants.

A treasure trove of metal reposes across this nation — spied among hills and valleys, backyards and vacant lots, alongside main roads and dirt roads. It sits. It rusts. It decays. Why aren’t those who push for environmental cleanup going after the metal before it loses its value to recycle?

Disregard what we once called “junk yards” or today’s popular “scrap yards.”
Businesses such as these have provided spare parts for us as far back as anyone can remember. Sometimes the inventory comes from wrecked vehicles or commercial demolition. Yet, I would hazard to guess that the smallest percentage of their worn wares comes from people bringing it in for its cash value.

Can you fathom the amount of metal that lies about around this country? It would boggle the mind to even begin to try to figure out the tonnage, but I would bet it is considerable —even shocking!

What if our service clubs, 4-H and youth groups volunteered to gather up the metal and take it to a central hub for shipment to companies ripe for raw materials? What if monetary return were enough to more than tempt people with the stuff on their property to haul it out for cash?

There will always be “collectors” (?) who amass junk vehicles and farm equipment and let it sit idle for years. I guess some folks just can’t part with things. Yet, it makes more sense to accrue a little income from unused items. True, the current values are low. You can expect a low price of around $200 for a 1.3 ton vehicle according to .

In truth, even farmers cannot expect a high value for idle, rusty old farm equipment. Yes, even with the booming world demand for scrap metal, farm machinery that commands high prices is of the old, heavy variety dating back at least a generation or two. The focus here is not “antique” farm
equipment. That’s another story entirely, centered on enthusiasts for things like oil pullers and steel wheeled harvesters.

I just wonder what would happen if we spurred those intent on cleaning up the environment to attack the problem of rusty clutter awash in America.
If the enthusiasm equaled the supply, you could envision stake truck after stake truck lumbering down the back roads and highways carrying their bounty to strategically located collection hubs.

Instead of going out for a leisurely drive only to have the landscape marred by piles of rusting “stuff,” why not anticipate seeing a cleaner view? It is disgusting to think that an entire group of farmers were deprived of making a living to save some little “snail darter” fish; yet, rusting hulks sink into the ground without so much as a second thought from those who clamor for a “cleaner America.”

Scrap yards and junkyards have fences. Open spaces that are cluttered with rusting hulks constitute a blighted landscape. Urban or rural, accumulating junk is unsightly and unworthy of a country steeped in pride and tradition. Metropolitan cities often sponsor clean up taken of Baltimore, Maryland? A lot of that trash it is plastic, but a lot is metal, too. Department of Corrections work details routinely clean up along highways, but those efforts pale in comparison with cleaning up the junk seen off our roads. Granted, rural areas would pose security and escape problems, but why not have corporations and foundations sponsor clean up crews staffed by unemployed men? Jobs equate to money. Money incentivizes upward mobility.

Trash as a step up? Yet, we do have a crisis, one that I dub “metal urgent.” The longer metal sits unused and in the open, the less value it has and the more unsightly it becomes. Face it: there is a lot of junk out there.

If we really attacked this problem, we might be very surprised at the result. Think about it.

267 “Means” August 6, 2019

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#267

“The Best Means”

It doesn’t take a lot to spark my angst at the slide of today’s society compared to years of my youth. Quite often I take zest in filing a column allied to a historical date or a treasured American holiday and attendant celebration. However, beginning anew with a slightly different take on today, I submit a topic for your assessment.

Columbine, until April 20, 1999, brought to mind a beautiful flower variety. After that date the name linked to a beautiful high school at the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. From that day forward, Columbine became a term recalling fear and death — fear and death at the hands of classmates. The fifteen dead included the two perpetrators.

Video games fueled their fervor for killing and honed shooting skills to effect the highest possible number of casualties. Those of us who live in Indiana remember vividly that teacher Dave Sanders, a Hoosier native, sacrificed his life by using his own body to shield students from the onslaught of bullets.

People have had guns for centuries, but the mindset is different today. No, I do not refer to the ongoing battle over gun laws. Laws only restrain law-abiding citizens. Criminals do not obey laws. In the end, taking guns away from law-abiding citizens will never stave off a mass shooting. A miniscule number of gun crimes are committed by licensed gun owners. Criminals will get guns no matter what laws are on the books.

When you add one more ingredient, the result is ghastly. Mental illness is not a new malady and can be traced as far back as any written history. Mental illness and weapons do not mesh. They constitute a recipe for disaster.

My generation was not privy to the mentally ill awash within the wider society. Physicians and family members saw to it that those so afflicted were put in a facility where they could live in safety and not pose a threat.
Every state had mental hospitals, and I can site one specifically.

A good example is Central State Hospital, Indiana’s first state psychiatric institution, located on West Washington Street in Indianapolis. In 1844, the famous reformer Dorothea Dix inspected almshouses and jails near Indianapolis that housed mentally ill paupers. The hospital served the entire state until 1905, by which time additional hospitals had been constructed in Evansville, Logansport, Madison, and Richmond leaving Central State with patients from 38 counties in central Indiana.

The state recognized that the mentally ill deserved good care and provided it for 150 years. It served the state well, but with the onslaught of people who saw no need for facilities of its kind, Central State Hospital closed its doors for good in1994. In my opinion, Hoosiers are no better for its closure.

The nation’s oldest surviving facility of its kind, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now houses the Indiana Medical History Museum.

The numbers of mentally ill veterans among the homeless population complicate the problem even more. Sometimes I wonder if there is another ingredient, too. I wonder if we have demanded so little of our youngsters in the last fifty years that they expect life to be easy.

It’s not an idle comment either. Most of my generation had a first job at about 12 or 13 years old. We delivered newspapers, swept floors, car-hopped, washed cars, pumped gas, stocked groceries or bussed tables and washed dishes in restaurants. A very few ever had a car. In fact, most families when I was a teenager had just one car.

Parents expected their teenagers to work, and it wasn’t unusual that the teenager’s wages helped to support the family. At some point that firm parental direction changed. People wanted for their kids to have it “easier” than they did. Yes, teens work today, too, but not in the numbers of decades ago.

When you remove discipline, expectation and faith from the scene, you are left with a grim picture. Low energy? Try an energy drink! Feeling low? Take a pill to feel better. Create an artificial reality.

When things were tough emotionally, a family leaned on both the medical community and the church. There was an iron triangle that held together very well: parents, school, and church. While non-denominational churches grow at an unprecedented rate today, organizers push athletics on Sunday, robbing many families of worship services.

Now, consider prescription drugs. Not oxycodone or hydrocodone or narcotics per se, but anti-depressants. Ever notice the advertisements for anti-depressants? You recognize them, the people who hold up a cardboard face wearing a smile to mask their emotional condition?

Commercial advertising for drugs is a sore point with me. Aside from the ridiculous disclaimers at the end of each ad warning of the possible side effects — including death — is the entire problem of suggestion. How many of these disturbed children have had any real supervision at home?

Combine the demise of the mental hospital, the availability of anti-depressants and the explosion of violent video games that extol killing and desensitize youngsters to any kind of compassion for their fellows, and you seed a nasty result.

A truly worrisome sign of disintegration among young people is the wide use of technology. Sure, cell phones save lives; but they also cost lives. Computers bring the world to the kitchen table, but they also provide a remote platform for pure hatred. We saw bullying in schools during the 1950s and 1960s, but that bullying was up close and personal — face to face — or at least across the playground or the street! Today, children and teens commit suicide because of online bullying.

Cowards fully utilize social media. For years I never used the text function on my phone. Is it handy? Sure it is, but it also represents a real danger for the younger generation. Why? They no longer actually talk to one another. We had a telephone at home, but my folks had rules. At first it was a party line, so more than one family had the same number. Only the number of rings was different. No long conversations and the phone sat in the hall. Privacy? Forget that!

When people lose the skill of talking with one another, they lose the ability to empathize with one another. A person is not a person anymore. The text world is sterile and limited —absent emoji — to 26 letters and 10 numbers.

I am convinced that our schools should teach American history and patriotism from kindergarten. If ignored, history repeats itself. Studying history provides warning signs. With no sense of history, we are doomed.
Today’s problems are complicated and dangerous, but nothing short of a return to ethics and values will solve them. The Bible tells us from its earliest texts what happens when a nation turns its back on God. It bodes ill. Well, America is on that sad road now.

Man can solve just so much. God can solve everything. His ingredients? Love. Hard work. Caring. Sharing. Kindness. Peace. Not a bad recipe, is it?

The final nail in the coffin is the pervasive preaching of gloom and doom. The constant banter of no hope for the future is robbing kids of dreaming and living the American dream. The prime reason for the elections of both Ronald Wilson Reagan and Donald John Trump is that they held out high hopes for the nation. Without that hope, why should our young people have any interest in success or contributing to the society as a whole? The non-stop litany of victimization is useless. They need an entirely new message. How about this one? “When you see a problem, work on how to fix it!”

We are at a tipping point in this society today, and we need a return to faith and family in order to turn things around. Change comes from hard work, and hard work is what we should be expecting, not “freebies.” There is no free lunch and there never will be. Someone pays for it. Likely, you.

The shooter in Dayton was a supporter of Elizabeth Warren. The shooter in EL Paso had expressed his anti-Mexican sentiments long before President Trump took office, yet the wider media focused on the latter not the former. It’s as if the young man in Ohio didn’t exist.

Nothing is solved unless the whole truth is out in the open. It’s been said for as long as I can remember, and it holds true today. “Actions speak louder than words.” Pray for those in El Paso and Dayton. Pray for our President. Detractors are attempting to lay all these deaths at his feet. Nonsense.

President Trump is not anti-immigrant. He is anti-illegal immigrant, and so are the majority of Americans. Support him as he comforts those in Ohio and Texas. We have the means. Do we have the will? Think about it.

266 “Old Glory”

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 266

July 4, 2019

“Old Glory”

The Fourth of July dawned with wisps of white clouds on a soft blue background, unusual for Upper Michigan in the summer. The usual colors are much more brilliant and the clouds puffier, as if forecasting what will come with afternoon’s deep blue hues.

As I positioned the flag on the deck rail, I lamented the fact that the nation’s detractors have settled on another precious element of America as a target for what has become a non-stop litany of protests against the only place on earth where you are really free to speak your mind.

Well, shall we leave the term “mind” for another time? You would need to be completely unaware and uninformed as to our history to decry a country whose men and women have freed more souls from harsh governments than any other that ever existed.

The old term “you reap what you sow” comes to the fore. In the last half century those of us who know and love history and appreciate the sacrifices made for our freedom point a deservedly accusing finger at the educators who have, as was their plan, systematically spun tales of anti-Americanism to their students that have grown like a terrible disease. This disease is not dis-ease in terms of subtle objections to the way things are run in this country. Oh, no, this disease has been repeated and taught so often that it is now thought true. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. And deceive they have….

Step by step, professors and lecturers from coast to coast have spawned a generation of functionally and historically illiterate graduates who now have a growing grip on what happens to our freedom.

Our American flag stands as more than a symbol. It has been, for 243 years, for countless citizens and servicemen and women, the life’s blood of our nation. Flown over joyous parades, it also drapes the coffins of those who paid the ultimate price for everything we have today.

Are they inadequacies in our government? Certainly. Yet, beyond all those shortcomings lies the foundation of a free people, who, today, celebrate its inception — hard fought by men whose ranks included the most educated and the least, men whose spirits bolstered by a loving God, propelled them to found a nation truly worthy of Ronald Reagan’s description “a shining city on a hill.”

Today, as you watch the 4th of July parades, whether in hamlets or major cities, stop a moment and thank God — yes, God — that you live in a country whose history is a beacon to oppressed people around the world, a country that beckons immigrants to come and make the American dream real for their families. Leave the controversy of current times aside and celebrate the mix of America. We are, as my beloved Taiwanese government professor at Franklin College loved to say, “an international salad with American dressing.” Well, dress up today. Wear your red, white and blue.

Hail that flag as it passes. In your community, large or small, in your state, make sure that voices are raised not to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from our public meetings and government sessions. View that pledge as a prayer and defend it with equal fervor.

May “Old Glory” find a new sense of glory in our country. Stand against those who use it unfairly, who malign it and seek to, in using it in such a manner, diminish its value to each and every one of us.

Happy 4th of July, and may God, as He has for centuries, continue to bless the United States of America.

265 “A Day To Always Remember…”

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 265

June 6, 2019

For the last twenty-plus years I have never failed to file a column on this day. It is seminal to my childhood. My parents’ generation lived it, yet seldom discussed it. It was, in so many cases, something to hold inside and remember. Not so much as a tiny hamlet in this nation was spared losing a man or woman in World War II. Today, we pause for an anniversary that commemorates sacrifice in terms few can really understand.

Seventy-five years ago today my father lost several of his good friends. Army personnel, both on the ground and in the air, they gave their last full measure of devotion as the Allied Expeditionary Force came onto the beaches of Normandy in the first onslaught that was to cripple and defeat Nazi Germany.

A dear member of my family jumped from an LST as it hit the beach and scrambled up those rugged cliffs among his comrades and countless others he had never seen.

Looking at history texts in today’s curricula I lament the fact that the bravery of those men and the tremendous challenges they faced are given little space. In fact, World War II comes across as just another war.

Where the teenagers in the mid-1800s often took charge of their families when a father — or both parents — died. They never gave a second thought to their sudden responsibilities. They put on their big boy pants and forged ahead to do the best they could.

My generation was involved in the Vietnam War, but that war was not a conflict that threatened the whole of Western Civilization as we know it. It was, of course, a struggle for freedom of the South Vietnamese populace. America has always come to the aid of people fighting for freedom.

Our struggle came against the British in the 18th century, and the determination of the Founders and the tattered soldiers under George Washington was alive and well on “D Day.”

We are unique. Our nation, once it achieved its freedom, never relinquished it to those who sought to destroy it. There is nothing as tempting to dictators as taking down a government that gives its people liberty.

The speech that President Donald Trump gave in France should be reading material for every man, woman and child in America. His descriptions of Private First Class Pickett mirrored the courage of uncounted thousands buried nearby.

The feats of “”D Day” would be completely impossible today. Aerial images would give away any modicum of deception. The cardboard tanks and airplanes on the ground in England would be seen for what they are.

Losses were monumental. We lost so many men — essentially a good portion of an entire generation. Those who fought grew up in the wake of World War I. Their parents and grandparents had good reason to fear another war in Europe. Yet, when their country called, youngsters — yes, youngsters — lined up to enlist. Many lied about their age. It was not unusual to find a 16 or 17-year-old fighting alongside older men.

Few of the returning veterans talked about their wartime experiences. Fortunately for us, organizations across the country have been filming videos for the last decade or so. Those who sat down to tell their stories nearly a lifetime after their service did so in order to “set the record straight.” Videographers knew the importance of accuracy. They knew that only these men and women had a wealth of knowledge. It is to their credit that they took the time to do these videos. Many military museums have a wealth of these films. They are well worth viewing.

There are still some surviving veterans from World War II. At least as of last year, Richard Arvin Overton was the oldest of his veteran peers at 112 years of age. A Texan born and bred, he certainly echoes the mantra of many proud residents of the Lone Star State.

If you have the chance to view the video from today’s ceremonies in France, scan the men behind our president. We are not likely to see their equal again. Oh, I do not diminish the bravery of those who serve today, but they will not face the odds that those storming the Normandy beaches or fighting in the Ardennes faced. Armaments have come a long way and protection afford our soldiers would have looked like science fiction in the 1940s.

If you have children or grandchildren, take the time to teach them about World War II. That conflict, long, protracted and costly beyond belief, secured freedom for Western civilization. We are forever in their debt. They forged ahead with faith in their God and their country. They knew, to a man, that they might never come home alive. Yet they fought on….

Just reflect on U. S. Army General Anthony McAuliffe.

He is credited with perhaps the most famous quote of the entire war.

Anthony McAuliffe (2 July 1898 – 11 August 1975) was the United States Army general who was the acting division commander of the 101st Airborne Division troops defending Bastogne, Belgium during World War II’s “Battle of the Bulge,” and is famous for his single-word reply of “Nuts!” in response to a German surrender ultimatum.

His spirit and tenacity is representative of this generation of soldiers and is seen today in our fighting men and women. Americans have never backed down to tyrants. They have fought tooth and nail to secure liberty for their fellow peoples around the world.

It is in our genes to help others. We have reason to be proud of this country. Today, and for as long as you breathe free, please pray for those who died along those cliff-edged beaches seventy-five years ago. Remember those who came home. They are still among us. They deserve our prayers, and our thanks. Think about it

# 264 “Will we?”

Monday, May 20th, 2019

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 264

May 20, 2019

“Will we?”

Suffice it to say that it’s been a long time since I filed a column. In spite of the fact that topics surface every day deserving of a column (or two), I have waited because this is a column that is long overdue.

In the past, as readers, you know that my work presents a form tailored to you as readers, and not as I the columnist. I try very hard to incorporate factual background and historical context to topics that reflect current events, no matter how bizarre. And, in truth, some of them are very bizarre.

Religious rivalries and hatreds date back as far as the written or carved word. To hear the news reporters today, one would think that all this is new —- a phenomenon reflective of insensitivity and a ghastly term that defines all too many newscasts: tolerance.

One comment is overdue. We have forgotten how to see humor in anything. Our children are deprived of a good old-fashioned laugh. Life should be lived with a little levity. Troubles afflict each of us. Some are minor. Others are heavy and threaten to destroy us.

However, there is a quarter of solace and peace that has been removed from our schools. Is it any surprise that when schools banned God from their premises, Satan came in the door with both feet?

From seventh grade through high school a young men’s group called Hi-Y began our school day with a prayer. Nobody complained. Nobody protested. Words of wisdom came over the loud speaker and gave those of us who did not attend church a bit of guidance sorely missing from their lives.

It mattered not if our classmates were Protestant, Jewish, or Catholic. None of us questioned the worship of our peers. Most of us had homes with intact families, father… mother… perhaps one or more siblings. Since most of our parents had their children in their twenties, a great many of us had grandparents until we had our own children. School activities were five-day weeks with athletic events on Friday or Saturday nights. None were planned for Sunday. In fact, had someone suggested that in the 1940s or 1950s they would have been greeted with a hard, cold stare.

Just what did society do when it took the Lord away from our children? Listening to many young people today, the word “church” is roundly absent.

It is high time that believers of every stripe rose to the occasion and took a stand against Sunday games. A middle ground might be found in at least scheduling contests mid-afternoon so families could attend church together.

Satan is a force with which we must reckon. Active beyond our estimation, he wields tremendous force on impressionable people. He comes not with a foul smell or ugly appearance. Instead, he comes sweet smelling and flush with tempting goodies. He seems to offer everything and demand nothing. Yet that is not the case at all.

It is a joy that since President Reagan’s “….shining city on a hill,” we again have a spokesman in the White House. President Trump continues to remind us that we are all created by God. In a recent speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he remarked, “In America, we do not worship the government. We worship God.” If anything, we need more of that in daily discourse. When was the last time you heard the media (in any form) refer to religion unless it revolves around a shooting or some sort of vandalism?

Do not expect that those bent on taking down religion in America will wane in their efforts. Violence is on the increase. With no God in their lives, youngsters without direction and disgruntled men and women seek to inflict their power over others. Sometimes they use words and protest, full of expletives and opinions but absent of facts. They take center stage on newscasts. What better way to recruit others who have nothing in their lives that holds them to a higher calling? They are adrift.

An anchor exists. Few other than the Christian and Jewish programming networks address the fact that the country is at risk. Take heed of the Old Testament, common to both faiths. When a nation turned its back on God, the result was grim. Judging the current climate in American, we teeter on the cusp of disaster.

We are living in what can be, in a matter of years, a dark time for America. The popular culture is dangerous. No matter whether you are Christian or Jew, you place your life in the hands of God. In the Old Testament God made a covenant with the Jewish people. God does not renege on a promise.
The promise of the New Testament, through Jesus Christ, assures us that death has no power over us. Jews and Christians lead their lives looking forward to going to Heaven.

We have a life beyond this mortal one. Those of us reared in a church or synagogue have heard the word. To heed it is to life an upright, honest life and love one another.

Hatred casts a shadow over our country, a shadow that has a name. I close with phrases from the 23rd Psalm.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Note that the shadow has a name — death.

Please take the time to take your faith from your house of worship and into your community. Spreading the word need not be from a pulpit or a lectern. Spreading the word by example is priceless. Life your faith.

Satan, true to form, salivates at the prospect of Americans killing babies up to and including birth, ignoring the U. S. Constitution (authored by men of faith), condoning legalizing drugs that are far more potent than those proponents used in the 1960s, and offering free goodies to one and all.

The people of Bible times worked. They worked hard. Alms for the poor were common, but given to those infirm or elderly unable to work. The next year and a half will be awash with promises of freebies.

When I taught at the college level, I stressed one comment to my students. Socialism has never succeeded in any nation at any time. It robs workers of initiative by watering down achievement and assigning everyone the same compensation no matter the effort. It dissuades innovation and invention. It destroys. It does not build.

Margaret Thatcher’s words of July 7, 2009 come to mind: “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Heed the verse of 2nd Timothy: 2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith. Will we? Think about it.